As a general rule, we Scots are fairly laid back and it isn’t uncommon to walk into a pub on your own and leave with at least two or three new friends. Whilst most Scots are generally informal by nature, there are some fun Scottish traditions that we, at WOW Scotland, think are useful to know about. Here are some of our top tips on good pub etiquette when drinking in Glasgow.

Local Dialect

WOW Scotland Scottish Dialect

No matter where you travel to in the world, it is always polite and friendly to learn a few local words and sayings. There are many different dialects and word variations throughout Scotland and we we think that this only adds to its mystery and charm. Some words that you will definitely hear include:

  • Wee – used to describe something or someone that is little.
  • Nip – usually refers to a serving of whisky and it is often paired with ‘wee’.
  • Swally – another word for an alcoholic beverage. This is also often paired with ‘wee’, even if ordering a large pint.
  • Ginger – this is one for the ‘weans’ (kids) or those who fancy something non-alcoholic. It is another word for a soft drink or fizzy drink. It was originally used to describe Irn Bru and its fantastic orange colour, but it can be used for all soft drinks nowadays.  
  • Aye – another way to say yes.
  • Aye right! – another way to say no.
  • Pure baltic – this means absolutely freezing and is often a good excuse to go to the pub.

If you can only remember one saying then we recommend it to be ‘Slainte Mhath’ (pronounced like ‘Slanjevah’). This is Scottish for ‘Cheers’ and it is very important when drinking in Scottish pubs.

Local Specialities

Scots are proud of their local specialities and will gladly talk about them to anyone who asks. Whisky is synonymous with Scotland and you will find a great selection in most Glasgow pubs. However, there are lots of other great drinks that we would recommend you ask about and try;

  • Tennants is a light lager that has been made ‘with pride’ in Glasgow since the 1800s. Its crisp and refreshing taste goes down well with a packet of Scampi Fries or salted peanuts.
  • Irn Bru is often described as ‘Scotland’s other national drink’. It is an orange carbonated drink with a fiery ginger kick. If you go for a sip of it immediately after it has been poured, do not inhale! Its bubbles and its fiery kick are fierce.
  • Buckfast is another favourite. Although it is made in England, Glasgow seems to have adopted this drink as its own and locals lovingly call it ‘Buckie’. It is a tonic wine, dark in colour and rich in consistency, but tastes a little like cough syrup.
  • St Mungos Lager tastes delicious and is brewed by WEST Brewery, a local brewery that has been making beer in Glasgow since 2006. This lager is brewed in strict adherence with the German purity law (the oldest food law in the world) and it tastes delicious!

Scots are persuasive creatures so be careful what you ask about in a pub, as the chances are that you will be encouraged to try it (this is when the term ‘Aye Right!’ might be useful).

WOW Recommends

Glasgow is known as the cultural capital of Scotland so it is no surprise that there is a great deal of variety to its pubs. Traditional old watering holes, which haven’t been redecorated for over a decade, are neighbours to trendy hipster pubs decked out with industrial interiors and filament light bulbs. Each has their own charm and we would recommend trying both types.

If you fancy a wee nip of whisky in a traditional old pub then we would recommend The Nevis. You will find a wide range of Scottish artifacts scattered around this pub. In the evenings it is common to witness traditional live musicians and bands.

For those interested in craft beers and trendy Scottish Gins, we would recommend BrewDog on Argyle Street. These guys originally hail from the North East of Scotland but they have grown to be a global phenomenon. They have a wide and delicious selection available but always check the % when ordering – they hold the record for the strongest and most expensive beer in history!

The Park Bar is another great place to experience Scottish culture at its best. Only a short walk from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The Park Bar is full of charm, delicious food and a wide range of refreshment options.

Fancy trying out some of Glasgow’s pubs for yourself? Then why not join us on our Glasgow Greenock shore excursion, where you can end the day in some of Scotland’s best pubs – the best end to the best Scottish day trip. (Please note that this tour is for Royal Princess dates only in 2018.) One word of warning though – if someone asks if you want a ‘Glasgow Kiss’, we would definitely recommend that you politely refuse.